Best. Ticket-ordering interface. Ever.

The Cirque du Soleil's system for ordering tickets online to its traveling shows is flawless, writes CNET News.com's Daniel Terdiman.

If you haven't bought tickets to a traveling Cirque du Soleil show in the last few months, I recommend that you do right away.

Not for the privilege of going to see the Cirque--though if you know me, you know that I will always pimp for that--but actually so that you can experience what I can unabashedly say is the best online ticket-buying interface I've ever seen.

The Cirque du Soleil's online ticket-ordering system is extremely intuitive and easy to use. Daniel Terdiman/CNET News.com

I am always amazed by the fact that here we are in 2007, and company after company after company still shows that it hasn't got the first clue about what goes into a good Web experience. You all know exactly what I'm talking about.

But there I was last night, trying to buy tickets for the Cirque's new show, Kooza, expecting to suffer through the usual poor ticket-buying interface.

Hark! I am here to report that someone has seen the light. The interface the Cirque is using, which was built by Montreal software shop Outbox Technology, is pure genius.

To begin with, you are given a calendar showing all the dates and times the show is playing. Then, when you click on a specific show, a graphic pops up that first asks for how many seats you need and then illuminates which sections in the Cirque's big top still have that many available seats for that show.

In and of itself, that's a pretty nifty piece of user interface innovation. But wait, there's more!

The system enables users to click easily through and see the exact location of seats for any show, and then pick them. Daniel Terdiman/CNET News.com

Once you've picked your show and seating section, you click on that section on the graphic of the theater, and a second graphic pops up showing you the exact seats that are still available. And that means you get, with just a few clicks, an exact representation of where you could be sitting for the show you've selected.

If the available seats for the show you want to see aren't acceptable, you can simply click back onto the calendar for a different show, and the graphics instantly reflect the available seats for that show.

Really, it may be the most intuitive piece of interface design I've ever seen, and given that it's also tied into what must certainly be a complex ticket database and billing system, I have to applaud Outbox for creating a piece of user experience magic.

The problem is, of course, that after using this system, it's going to make going back to the standard crap that everyone else uses more dispiriting than ever. I guess I'll just have to keep on buying Cirque tickets from now on. Darn.

 

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